IPL 2021 – Covid-19 effect
On Monday, two KKR players and three members of the CSK camp – including L Balaji – tested positive
The fallout from the Covid-19 cases – confirmed and suspected – within the IPL bubble was felt through the day on Monday. The Delhi Capitals, the last team to play against the Kolkata Knight Riders – two of their players have tested positive – have been asked to isolate themselves at their hotel in Ahmedabad. In Delhi, neither the Mumbai Indians nor the Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are scheduled to play each other on Tuesday, trained at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground after suspected positive cases among the ground staff.
Monday started with the IPL confirming that the Knight Riders’ Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier had tested positive in Ahmedabad, and cancelled their match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, scheduled for Monday. Within hours, in Delhi, the Chennai Super Kings had reported three positive cases including that of Laxmipathy Balaji, who was in the dugout during Saturday’s match against the Mumbai Indians.
Delhi, currently the most severely affected city in India, has already hosted four out of its eight scheduled matches. But there is concern among the franchises after reports emerged that some of the groundstaff at the Kotla had tested positive for Covid-19.
Rohan Jaitley, the president at the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association, which manages the Kolta, said that none of the groundstaff that were present for the two matches over the weekend were among those who had tested positive.
“There’s no one who is on duty at the matches who has tested positive,” Jaitley told ESPNcricinfo on Monday. “Since the numbers (in Delhi) peaked we had put them (groundstaff) in-house in a bubble and they were staying at the stadium. Since it is a taxing job, they get drained out. So we have groundstaff that are off-site tested and quarantined. After every few matches we rotate them.”
It is understood that at least two members of the groundstaff that were not at the ground over the weekend had tested positive and had been placed in quarantine.
Jaitley said that the testing had been done as per the standard operating procedures put in place by the IPL and he was confident Tuesday evening’s match would be held on schedule.
In Ahmedabad, while the entire Knight Riders’ contingent is now in five-day quarantine, the Capitals put on hold all activity on Monday afternoon after they were asked to isolate in their hotel rooms. There is no clarity yet on whether the squad can train on Tuesday, their first day back at practice after Sunday’s match. Their next match, ironically, is again against the Knight Riders, in Ahmedabad on May 8.
It is understood that the Capitals also moved their regular testing, scheduled originally for Tuesday, to Monday. The IPL had, from the start of the tournament’s second leg played in Ahmedabad and Delhi, asked teams to get tested every two days. Teams have conducted these tests on non-match days and the Capitals underwent testing on May 1 before today.
The reason behind the franchise taking such a step is believed to be because of the faster rate of transmission in India, which is currently recording close to 400,000 new cases every day. All six venues shortlisted by the BCCI to conduct the IPL – Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Kolkata – have been among the worst-affected cities in the past month.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo